March 18th, 2015

Phrases to Improve Every Customer Interaction

Here's exactly what your customers want to hear.

March 18th, 2015

Phrases to Improve Every Customer Interaction

Here's exactly what your customers want to hear.

Standout service hinges on subtle language. Even with the best of intentions, a vague phrase or a quietly toxic word can make great service sound like less than it is.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, customer service legend Ritz-Carlton keeps a handbook that outlines tone, attitude, and useful phrases (known as a “support lexicon”) to help employees deliver pleasant service in the pleasant language it deserves.

Sound good? Start with these:

Happy Customers Like to Hear This

1. “My pleasure.”

It may come as a surprise, but the phrase “no problem” can give the impression that you’re doing the customer a favor as opposed to giving them the great service they’re entitled to. It’s a subtle signal that you may as well avoid.

Also try “happy to help.”

2. “Good question! Let me find out for you.”

Your customers don’t expect you to know everything. But they do expect you to have the resources to find out, and to take the time to use those resources.

3. “Let me double check that for you.”

Use in place of “I’m pretty sure” or “I think.” Solid information that comes slowly is better than shaky information right away.

4. “You’ll want to…”

Even when you’re offering useful guidance, “you need to” can sound like an order.

Also try “my best recommendation is.”

5. "Follow me. We’ve got it right over here."

Better to show than to tell. Use in place of “It’s over there.”

6. “We can have that for you next week.”

If you’re all out and replacements are on the way, this is a positive way to phrase it (as opposed to “we’re all out”).

If it’s not something you don’t usually stock, try “let me see if I can special order that for you.”

Whatever You Do, Don't Say This!

Some support lexicons contain a list of prohibited phrases (known as a “negative lexicon”). These aren’t phrases that need to be replaced—they simply need to be eliminated.

Such as:

8. “Did you see any?”

It may seem be an innocent tic, but when a customer asks if you have something in stock, responding with "Did you see any?" can come off as simply rude.

Try “let me check on that for you,” then hit the floor and take a look.

9. “To be honest with you.”

It’s a well-meaning phrase—you’re trying to connect with the customer by suggesting you’re about to be candid with them. But what it suggests is that honesty is the exception and not the rule.

10. “It’s against our policy.”

Policies should focus on how you can help, not how you can’t. And if a policy is keeping customers from having good experiences, you may want to reexamine the policy.

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